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Vandi Verma


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 321-400

Pasadena, CA 91109

Member of:

3470 - Section Management

Acting Member of:

347T - Aerial Mobility

Dr. Vandi Verma

Deputy Section Manager


Vandi Verma is a JPL Principal Engineer and the Deputy Section Manager for the Mobility & Robotics section at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. She also serves as Chief Engineer of Robotic Operations for Mars 2020. She was the Assistant Section Manager of the Mobility & Robotics section, the Supervisor of the Section Staff Group, and the Supervisor of the Operable Robotics Group.

Her areas of expertise include space robotics, autonomous robots, and robotic operations. She has worked on Robotics and AI research and technology development tasks and has deployed robots in the Arctic, Antarctica, and the Atacama Desert. She works on new robotics capabilities from research & development, mission design and prototyping, through flight development, testing and launch, to landing and surface operations.

Capabilities she has worked on are in regular use on Perseverance and Curiosity. She developed onboard robotic arm collision detection and autonomous robotic arm positioning on Perseverance, and autonomous science targeting on Perseverance and Curiosity. In addition to flight software onboard rovers, she has developed ground operations capabilities. She developed rapid flight software in the loop Surface Simulation (SSIM) for Curiosity. SSIM is used daily to simulate and verify spacecraft commanding on Curiosity and Perseverance. She is also the Principal Investigator of an Operations for Autonomy research task. She has been engaged in robotic operations on Mars since 2008 with the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity rover, Perseverance rover, and Ingenuity helicopter.

Vandi led the Europa Lander Advanced Development Autonomy Prototyping team and led the team that originated MEXEC for multi-mission onboard planning and execution. It has been demonstrated in flight in the ASTERIA mission, in Europa Clipper and Europa Lander prototypes, and parts of it are in use in the Perseverance On-Board planner. Prior to joining JPL, at NASA Ames research center she led the team that originated the formally verifiable plan execution language PLEXIL and the development of technology that has been deployed on rovers and human spaceflight projects. She continues to work with external collaborators and student and faculty researchers at universities.

Vandi received her Ph.D. in Robotics from Carnegie Mellon University in 2005.

Research Interests

Autonomous robots, Onboard capabilities that reduce the need for ground-in-the-loop interaction

Robotic operations, Human-robot interaction

Planning and execution, State estimation, Machine learning

Systems engineering, Flight software, Mission Design


  1. J. Nash, Q. Dwight, L. Saldyt, H. Wang, S. Myint, A. Ansar, and V. Verma, "Censible: A Robust and Practical Global Localization Framework for Planetary Surface Missions," 2024 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA), Yokohama, Japan, 13 May 2024.
  2. V. Verma, J. Nash, L. Saldyt, Q. Dwight, H. Wang, S. Myint, J. Biesiadecki, M. Maimone, A. Tumbar, A. Ansar, G. Kubiak, and R. Hogg, "Enabling Long & Precise Drives for the Perseverance Mars Rover via Onboard Global Localization," 2024 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, USA, 05 March 2024.
  3. V. Verma, M. Maimone, T. Del Sesto, K. Kaplan, T. Srinivasan, B. Cohen, J. Maki, and A. Rankin, "Robotic Operations for the First Sample Depot on Mars," 2024 IEEE Aerospace Conference, Big Sky, MT, USA, 03 March 2024.
  1. H. Wang, S. Myint, V. Verma, Y. Winetraub, J. Yang, and A. Cidon, "Mars Attacks!: Software Protection Against Space Radiation," HotNets '23: Proceedings of the 22nd ACM Workshop on Hot Topics in Networks, pp. 245-253, 28 November 2023.
  2. Vandi Verma, Mark W. Maimone, Daniel M. Gaines, Raymond Francis, Tara A. Estlin, Stephen R. Kuhn, Gregg R. Rabideau, Steve A. Chien, Michael M. McHenry, Evan J. Graser, Arturo L. Rankin, Ellen R. Thiel, "Autonomous robotics is driving Perseverance rover’s progress on Mars," Science Robotics, volume 8, issue 80, 26 July 2023.
  3. Vandi Verma, Mark Maimone, Evan Graser, Arturo Rankin, Kyle Kaplan, Steven Myint, Justin Huang, Amanda Chung, Kevin David, Andrei Tumbar, Iona Tirona, Michael Lashore, "Results from the First Year and a Half of Mars 2020 Robotic Operations," 2023 IEEE Aerospace Conference, 9 March 2023, 07 March 2023.
  4. A. Rankin, T. del Sesto, P. Hwang, H. Justice, M. Maimone, V. Verma, E. Graser, "Perseverance Rapid Traverse Campaign," 2023 IEEE Aerospace Conference, 7 March 2023, 07 March 2023.
  5. Federico Rossi, Dan Allard, Rashied Amini, Tiago Stegun Vaquero, Nihal Dhamani, Mathieu Choukroun, Vandi Verma, Marijke Jorristma, Scott Davidoff, Raymond Francis, Ellen Van Wyk, Ashkan Jasour, Mark Hofstadter, Bennett Huffman, Anthony Barrett, Michel Ingham, Rebecca Castano, "Workflows. User Interfaces, and Algorithms for Operations of Autonomous Spacecraft," IEEE Aerospace Conference, pp. 1-17, 04 March 2023.
  1. R. Castano, T. Vaquero, F. Rossi, V. Verma, E. Wyk, D. Allard, B. Huffmann, E, Murphy, N. Dhamani, R. Hewitt, S. Davidoff, R. Amini, A. Barrett, J. Castillo-Rogez, M. Choukroun, A. Dadaian, R. Francis, B. Gorr, M. Hofstadter, M. Ingham, C. Sorice, I. Tierney, "Operations for Autonomous Spacecraft," 2022 IEEE Aerospace Conference (AERO), Big Sky, MT, USA, pp. 1-20, 05 March 2022.
  2. F. Alibay, J. Koch, V. Verma, K. Bean, O. Toupet, D. Petrizzo, B. Chamberlain-Simon, R. Lange, R. Hogg, "On the Operational Challenges of Coordinating a Helicopter and Rover Mission on Mars," 2022 IEEE Aerospace Conference (AERO), Big Sky, MT, USA, pp. 1-17, 05 March 2022.
  3. V. Verma, F. Hartman, A. Rankin, M. Maimone, T. Del Sesto, O. Toupet, E. Graser, S. Myint, K. Davis, D. Klein, J. Koch, S. Brooks, P. Bailey , H. Justice, M. Dolci, H. Ono, "First 210 solar days of Mars Perseverance Robotic Operations - Mobility, Robotics Arm, Sampling, and Helicopter," IEEE Aerospace Conference, 05 March 2022.
  4. K. Hand, C. Phillips, A. Murray, et al., "Science Goals and Mission Architecture of the Europa Lander Mission Concept," The Planetary Science Journal, vol. 3, iss. 1, 26 January 2022.
  1. V. Verma, D. Gaines, G. Rabideau. S. Schaffer, R. Joshi, "Autonomous Science Restart for the Planned Europa Mission with Lightweight Planning and Execution," International Workshop on Planning & Scheduling for Space, 01 January 2017.
  1. D. Gaines, R. Anderson, G. Doran, W. Huffman, H. Justice, R. Mackey, G. Rabideau, A. Vasavada, V. Verma, T. Estlin, L. Fesq, M. Ingham, M. Maimone, and I. Nesnas, "Productivity Challenges for Mars Rover Operations," Proceedings of 4th Workshop on Planning and Robotics (PlanRob), London, UK, pp. 115-125, 14 June 2016.
  1. R. Francis, T. Estlin, D. Gaines, B. Bornstein, S. Schaffer, V. Verma, R. Anderson, M. Burl, S. Chu, R. Castano, D. Thompson, D. Blaney, L. deFlores, G. Doran, "AEGIS autonomous targeting for the Curiosity rovers ChemCam instrument," Applied Imagery Pattern Recognition Workshop (AIPR), 2015 IEEE, 01 January 2015.
  1. T. Estlin, D. Gaines, B. Bornstein, S. Schaffer, V. Verma, D. Thompson, A. Altinok, R. Anderson, M. Burl, R. Castano, D. Blaney, L. deFlores, T. Nelson, R. Weins, "Automated Targeting for the MSL Rover ChemCam Spectrometer," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space (i-SAIRAS 2014), 01 January 2014.
  1. S. Dong, P. Conrad, J. Shah, B. Williams, D. Mittman, M. Ingham, V. Verma, "Compliant Task Execution and Learning for Safe Mixed-Initiative Human-Robot Operations," InfoTech 2011, 01 January 2011.
  1. D. Kortenkamp, P. Bonasso, D. Schreckenghost, K. Dalal, V. Verma, L. Wang, "A Procedure Representation Language for Human Spaceflight Operations," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, 01 January 2008.
  2. V. Verma, V. Baskaran, H. Utz, R. Harris, C. Fry, "Demonstration of Robust Execution on a NASA Lunar Rover Testbed," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, 01 January 2008.
  1. M. Bualat, L. Edwards, T. Fong, M. Broxton, L. Flueckiger, S. Lee, E. Park, V. To, H. Utz, V. Verma, C. Kunz, M. MacMahon, "Autonomous Robotic Inspection for Lunar Surface Operations," Field and Service Robotics Conference, 01 January 2007.
  1. V. Verma, A. Jonsson, R. Simmons, T. Estlin, R. Levinson, "Survey of Command Execution Systems for NASA Spacecraft and Robots," The International Cnference on Automated Planning & Scheduling (ICAPS), 01 January 2005.
  2. D. Wettergreen, N. Cabrol, J. Teza, P. Tompkins, C. Urmson, V. Verma, M. Wagner, W. Whittaker, "First Experiments in the Robotic Investigation of Life in the Atacama Desert of Chile," International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 01 January 2005.
  3. V. Verma, T. Estlin, A. Jonsson, C. Pasareanu, R. Simmons, K. Tso, "Plan execution interchange language (PLEXIL) for executable plans and command sequences," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, 01 January 2005.
  1. V. Verma, S. Thrun, R. Simmons, "Variable Resolution Particle Filter," In Proceedings of the International Joint Conference on Artificial intelligence (IJCAI), 01 January 2003.
  2. V. Verma, G. Gordon, R. Simmons, "Efficient Monitoring for Planetary Rovers," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in Space (iSAIRAS), 01 January 2003.
  1. V. Verma, G. Gordon, R. Simmons, S. Thrun, "Particle Filters for Rover Fault Diagnosis," Robotics & Automation Magazine, special issue on Human Centered Robotics and Dependability, 01 January 2002.
  2. M. Montemerlo, J. Pineau, N. Roy, S. Thrun, V. Verma, "Experiences with a Mobile Robotic Guide for the Elderly," In Proceedings of the AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence, 01 January 2002.
  1. V. Verma, J. Langford, R. Simmons, "Non-Parametric Fault Identification for Space Rovers," International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space, 01 January 2001.
  2. S. Thrun. J. Langford, V. Verma, "Risk Sensitive Particle Filters," In Proceedings of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems, 01 January 2001.
  1. S. Singh, R. Simmons, T. Smith, A. Stenz, V. Verma, A. Yahja, K. Schwehr, "Recent Progress in Local and Global Traversability for Planetary Rovers," Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, 01 January 2000.